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Because of her – the art of story-telling

The NAIDOC Week theme (2018), because of her, we can – celebrated the invaluable contributions Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women make – and continue to make –  to communities, families, and to the rich history of the first people’s nation.

As pillars of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander society, women have played – and continue to play – active and significant roles in the community at local, state and national levels.

For at least 65,000 years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have carried dreaming stories, songlines, languages and knowledge, which has kept their culture strong, enriched, and acknowledged as one of the oldest continuing cultures on the planet.

In Geelong, one such woman is local artist, mother, and an auntie of the Wathaurong people, Lynda Dingley. At 57, she has long been a passionate artist with stories to tell.

In 2007, while working as a chef teacher, Lynda was diagnosed with a spinal tumour. After an intensive 19-hour spinal operation, she became a paraplegic, which meant she had no use of her lower limbs.

Creating her art in a small home studio, Lynda struggled to complete larger canvas pieces using a commercial easel.

Working from a manual wheelchair, she found it difficult to complete projects using commercial equipment because it caused her to strain, giving her additional pain and migraines.

 

“It was incredibly frustrating. I had to stop painting.”

 

Knowing there must be a better way, Lynda reached out to Solve Disability Solutionsa not-for-profit, NDIS provider, specialising in custom assistive technologies.

Lynda’s goal was to be able to participate in her passion – art – an important element of her Aboriginal story-telling culture.

Solve’s technical volunteers, in Geelong, worked with Lynda to find a solution – building her a fit-for-purpose art easel.

After an in-home assessment with an occupational therapist and co-design collaboration with Lynda, Solve worked with the NDIS to ensure she had the funding she needed to access the assistive technology to participate and create her art – her personal and professional goal.

In the end, Solve created a custom rotating art easel (pictured) Lynda could independently adjust with design features like electric actuators, a rotating brace, and custom support structures.

With her new custom art easel, Lynda is back at it and has begun to enjoy creating new art pieces again. She has amassed an incredible 250 pieces in just seven years.

 

“These tools help meet my needs – it’s great! With the NDIS, I feel like I have a choice, and I’m learning about how my funding can be used for the things I need.”

 

During last year’s NAIDOC Week, the NDIS commissioned Lynda to create an original piece for its head office in Geelong (pictured).

Throughout the week, Lynda worked alongside other artists, NDIS staff and community members, to create a large canvas painting, celebrating Aboriginal heritage.

 

“This is my art, my designs and my culture, – showing where I’ve been and what I’ve done.”

 

 Lynda’s achievements, her storytelling and her unwavering passion strengthen the Aboriginal community.

Her artistic contributions increase visibility of her culture, paying respect to past generations, and paves the way for generations of Aboriginal woman and artist to come.

 

“Previously, I had to get help for everything I wanted to do. Now I can do it independently without hurting myself and straining my shoulder.”

 

More of Lynda’s artwork can be seen on Instagram @lyndadingley

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